As Filipino citizens, it’s our duty to vote government officials who are competent and put their constituents’ welfare first. The senatorial elections are coming up on May 13th (Monday), meaning it’s more crucial than ever to pay attention to what candidates have been saying during interviews, debates, and campaign rallies.
Today we’re focusing on what the female candidates are advocating for women and LGBTQ+ rights, especially with an administration that propagates misogyny and hate. There are only 11 women running for senator out of the 62 candidates, which is already alarming and proof of the lack of female representation in the Senate. (We’ve only had 22 female senators—the first was elected in 1947.) But take note that just because they are women doesn’t mean their causes and beliefs are feminist.
Let’s start the discussion on some of the popular choices for senator.
Sen. Grace Poe
Poe is a top bet in the latest Pulse Asia survey for April. She is a re-electionist and has been senator since the 16th Congress. During the 17th Congress, she has championed 345 bills and resolutions for women and children, and various sectors in the country.
On protecting women: Poe wanted to amend the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 2016 to address certain cases happening in schools, the workplace, and even online. She also wants to punish those who are caught and proven guilty of sexual harassment and assault.
On women’s health: Poe is one of the principal authors of RA. 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act. This “seeks to provide free check-ups and counselling for pregnant and lactating women, and free immunization and micronutrient supplementation for children aged 0 to 2 years old” during the first 1,000 days. She is also in favor of the Reproductive Health Law, noting that it will help address the problem of maternal death in the country. She believes in “women’s rights to choose,” implying support for contraception and birth control.
On divorce: Poe is not in favor of legalizing divorce, but believes that annulment fees should be more affordable.
On LGBTQ+ rights: She is one of the supporters of the SOGIE Equality Bill. She also wants to push for same-sex civil unions so that LGBTQ+ couples can get the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: Poe has been vocal against Pres. Duterte’s rape jokes and actions. She faced the House and warned them why it was illegal to show Sen. Leila De Lima’s alleged sex tape. She also told soldiers to know when the president’s statements, like “shoot in the vagina,” is acceptable or not.
Sen. Cynthia Villar
Villar is another re-electionist who’s leading the recent Pulse Asia survey. She’s been senator since 2013 and has passed several bills focusing on jobs and agricultural resources.
On protecting women: As congresswoman, she authored and backed bills such as the Anti-Trafficking in People Act of 2003, Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2014, and the Magna Carta of Women.
On women’s health: Villar is pro-life and against the RH Law. In an ANC interview in 2012, she said it’s a reason why the country isn’t progressing. “Big population is an asset, but you have to solve poverty.”
Cynthia VIllar: I'm pro-life. You can't make RH bill a reason why PH remains poor. Big population is an asset but you have to solve poverty.
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) July 9, 2012
On divorce: She categorically rejected the passing of the divorce bill in the House of Representatives. She believes that married couples don’t need to split and they are capable of fixing their problems without divorce.
On LGBTQ+ rights: Although she never said if she’s for or against same-sex marriage, Villar has been wary of its passage because it’s “controversial” for a Catholic country.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: She was against the showing of De Lima’s sex tape, but didn’t seem to call out Pres. Duterte for his remarks. Plus, she’s part of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), a regional party headed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Duterte has also stated that the Villars were “instrumental in his bid for the presidency in 2016.”
Rep. Pia Cayetano
Known as a staunch supporter of women’s rights and healthcare, Cayetano was the youngest woman elected in the Senate in 2004.
On women’s wages and work: One of her platforms as a re-electionist is to give P2,000 monthly compensation to the poorest housewives in the country. She also supported the passage of the recent Expanded Maternity Leave Act.
On divorce: Cayetano was one of the first legislators who wanted to file the divorce bill. Even when she wasn’t senator anymore, she has called on her former colleagues to “listen to the voice of Filipinos” when deciding on the passage of the bill.
LOOK: Congresswoman Pia Cayetano appealed to her former colleagues in the Senate to "listen to the voice of Filipinos" in deciding the divorce bill.
Cayetano who visited Cebu for series of activities said that she is pro-divorce. / @nestleCDN pic.twitter.com/k5phzOUYBx
— Cebu Daily News (@cebudailynews) March 23, 2018
On LGBTQ+ rights: Cayetano is a supporter of the SOGIE Equality Bill. She is also for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country, but acknowledged that it might take a while before it gets passed.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: Cayetano has been criticized for being a “faux feminist” because of her continued support for Duterte. She once defended his statements and actions as normal behavior for a man. She has also been mum about controversies like Duterte kissing an OFW in South Korea and his rape jokes, saying she is not his spokesperson. She is also backed by the president himself in this senatorial election.
Sen. Nancy Binay
As senator, Binay has filed 119 bills and 151 resolutions advocating for women and children, the youth, the elderly, and the poor.
On protecting women: In 2013, Binay filed the Electronic Violence Against Women and their Children bill, which is meant to complement the existing VAWC Act of 2004.“During that time, it did not include the electronic violence. This bill will only define a form of violence through new technology.”
On women’s health: Binay recently filed a bill to promote breastfeeding, which requires couples applying for marriage licenses to undergo a seminar on breastfeeding and infant nutrition. She has also filed a resolution to probe the healthcare of pregnant inmates back in 2014.
On divorce: She is against divorce and has instead told couples to not rush into marriage to avoid problems later on.
On LGBTQ+ rights: Binay supports the SOGIE Equality Bill, but her stand on same-sex marriage or civil union is unclear. In the past, she’s defended Sen. Manny Pacquiao for comparing same-sex unions to animal behavior.
Gov. Imee Marcos
Marcos is one of the most controversial candidates in the race as she is the daughter of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She is currently the governor of Ilocos Norte and is running under Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
On women’s health: As governor, Marcos has promoted improved maternal health via the Gender and Development (GAD) office in Ilocos Norte. She’s also put up free OB-GYN consultations and blood testing during Women’s Month.
On protecting women: She has also raised awareness for VAW via their yearly Women’s Month celebration in the Ilocos region.
On LGBTQ+ rights: She supports “gay rights,” saying they’re “in every way human rights as well.” She’s also claimed she’s “bakla” (gay) to court the LGBTQ+ sector.
Dapat intindihin natin na ang gay rights ay hindi lamang para sa ating mga LGBT. Gay rights are in every way human rights as well.
— Imee Marcos (@ManangImee) January 24, 2019
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: The Marcoses are close with Duterte, which is why she’s endorsed by the president. She also never called out the president for any of his misogynistic behaviors.
Gutoc is the lone woman in Otso Diretso and is one of the popular choices among netizens. She is a civic leader, journalist, women’s rights advocate, and a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. She was also a former legislator in the ARMM region.
On protecting women: Gutoc’s goal is to “bring understanding the issues of Muslims and women and to bring about harmony and peace in the country, especially in the region of Mindanao.” One of her proposals is to place more women in security clusters to advise the president in areas like Marawi City. “We have to make our country’s peace and security agenda inclusive for the women who are often marginalized, and are its biggest victims, in these areas. Women have the skills, wisdom, capability and passion to ignite concrete and positive change in the security issues we are currently facing,”
On women’s health: Gutoc supports the passage of RH Law and how it’ll benefit the women in ARMM, especially those who are in marginalized communities.
On divorce: Gutoc personally won’t promote divorce. She added that this is a matter the government and Catholic Church should talk about, especially with the rise of abusive relationships and the need to protect female victims.
On LGBTQ+ rights: Even though Gutoc is Muslim, she still believes in fighting for equal treatment and opportunities members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, she’s expressed that she doesn’t support same-sex marriage.
On the misogyny of the Duterte administration: Gutoc has made it clear that she’s not a fan of Duterte’s misogynistic behavior. She even left her post in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission after hearing the president’s rape joke after the Marawi siege.
Kaya ako nag resign sa BTC, because when Marawi Seige happened, Mr. President “joked” at an army based in Iligan, “if you raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.” I looked around the room and no one was reacting. What happened to us? Okay nalang sa atin yon? Ganon na lang?
— Samira Gutoc (@SamiraGutoc) March 30, 2019
Art by Tricia Guevara
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